Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Poking the Bear
"Therefore encourage one another
and build one another up as you are doing."
I Thess. 5:11
I've been poking the bear lately.
Here's what that looks like for me. As in anyone's life, good things happen, as well as bad. My focus has been on the bad. Actually, not necessarily all bad but things that I can mull over in my mind and make bad. I am assuming they are bad and then I mull a while longer...until my husband gets home. Then I start talking and he becomes the bear I am poking. So instead of me simply corroding my own thoughts, I am transferring the negative to him, with my own spin on it. Not good. Not good for me and certainly not good for him.
My new motto that I am saying to myself these days is, "Knock it off, Kristen." I'm saying that a lot lately, as I am trying to take my negative thoughts captive. I am sure this is shocking to my readers who think every thought in my head is scripture, but it's true. I can have negative spirals and the problem is that when I go down, I can pull those around me down with me...and I've got to knock it off.
When our thoughts turn negative the impact on our life is great, but there is also a ripple effect that we don't realize. Before we know it, we've got our children complaining and the bear is waking up angry. So telling ourselves to knock it off is not enough - we have to replace those thoughts with righteousness. It's as simple as put off/put on. Put off the negative thoughts - even if they are true thoughts - conversations that hurt, actions that offended, conversations that went poorly. And put off the negative assumptions - these are the lies that we create and believe in our imaginations. We must replace them with things that are pure, lovely, righteous and true.
So where do we go? Scripture, of course! I Thess. 5:11 is a verse that comes at the end of a discourse on the return of Christ and the trouble that comes before the rapture. Because we are not children of the darkness, we will not be overwhelmed at the troubles. Our hope is in the Lord and we can have confidence in His return. In the meantime, we are to encourage others and build each other up as the struggles and trials increase. This verse is a great reminder that the ripple effect can be positive. Instead of poking the bear, I can use my words to encourage and build up, not incite and frustrate.
So here's what the put off/put on process looks like. First, I have to repent. I must confess to the Lord that I have been in a negative mood and it has become sin in my life. Then I have to go find the bear and ask his forgiveness, as well. (If you scratch him behind the ears while you do this, it has a better effect.) Then I need to "knock it off" when it comes to my thoughts. What am I thinking about? What can I replace those thoughts with? Meditating on the Word, reminding myself of the gospel, praying for others, counting my blessings, doing the ABC's of God's character are great options. And then I need to use my words to encourage and build up...purposefully. Speak kind, tenderhearted and forgiving words. Think the best of others. Let the Lord do what I cannot do, and live within the grace He so lavishly supplies each day.
Before you know it the bear is asleep and in his happy place again. So thankful today that the Lord has equipped us all to walk in the light and for the transforming affect that light has in me!